“the story transcended its stereotypes. For almost a century, children have enjoyed it. Jerry Pinkney and I read the story as children and recognized that Sambo was a black hero, but his name and how he was depicted took away his heroic status. … what other story had I read at age seven and remembered for fifty years? There was obviously an abiding truth in the story, despite itself.”
In Lester’s telling of the story Sam is clever, creative, thoughtful, joyful and courageous. He claims his outlandishly colored clothing as expressions of his spirit. His parents allow him to make choices in the marketplace and live with the responsibility entailed. When faced with hungry tigers Sam is able to outwit them and save himself from being eaten. He then manages to avoid further confrontation and successfully regains his prized clothing as the tigers turn on each other. Sam hurries on to school as the tigers chase each other into a blur of melted butter. On his way home he has the presence of mind to collect the butter and bring it home to his mother to make into pancakes for the whole neighborhood to enjoy. Lester’s story follows the original Sambo closely but the language and illustrations are filled with dignity and grace. This is a wise tale that will encourage children to go out into the wide world and come home triumphant. I am so glad Lester and Pinkney teamed up to publish this beautiful book!
Technorati Tags: African American, folktale, picture book, preschool, kidlit